BASC says firearms licensing continues to be blighted by a ‘postcode lottery’ after completing its second annual review of performance.
The UK’s largest shooting organisation has obtained figures for firearm and shotgun certificate grants and renewals, coterminous renewals and variations.
Analysis of the data for individual police forces across England and Wales shows some improvement in 2017 compared to 2016, but a number of forces have reported worse performances in almost every metric.
The research shows the mean average for firearm certificate grants to be 69 calendar days, an improvement on the previous average of 88 days. Similarly, shotgun certificate grants averaged 68 days in 2017 compared with 86 days previously. Coterminous grants averaged 63 days, but no 2016 data was available for comparison.
Firearm certificate renewals took an average 53 days while the time for shotgun certificate renewals dropped from 63 days in 2016 to 43 days.
There was no data available to compare the 2017 average of 52 days for coterminous renewals, but variation waiting times were down from 27 days to 13 days.
Following the publication of 2016’s figures, BASC worked with a number of police forces in an attempt to improve performance. But against a back-drop of Home Office consultations and uncertainty around medical procedures, some forces have shown an alarming slide in service delivery.
Both Lincolnshire and South Wales have shown worsening performance in almost every metric. Merseyside has added almost a month to the time it takes to grant certificates.
South Wales has added more than 100 days to the time taken to renew a firearm certificate and the force now needs almost twice as long as the previous year to turn around a shotgun renewal.
BASC firearms officer Rory O’Loughlin, who co-ordinated the research, said: “We would like to congratulate certain police forces that have achieved significant reductions in turnaround times namely Warwickshire and West Mercia, Essex, Hampshire, Greater Manchester and Thames Valley.
“BASC will continue to work with firearms licensing departments to offer support and advice to secure an efficient, cost-effective and robust system of licensing that protects public safety and provides excellent service to the shooting community.”
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, welcomed the improvements shown by some forces but warned against complacency in light of problems around medical involvement in firearms licensing.
“Unfortunately, firearms licensing in England and Wales remains a postcode lottery,” he said. “There is an alarming lack of consistency in the service provided to the shooting community.
“Problems do lie ahead. We must continue to challenge proposals to introduce medical checks for which a fee will be charged and fight unfair increases in firearms licensing fees.
“BASC is lobbying at the very highest level of government and continues to meet peers, MPs, ministers and civil servants.”
The new table is based on figures from 1 January 2017, to 31 December 2017 and uses a traffic light system to show relative performance. Green cells indicate above average performance, while red cells show below average performers. Yellow indicates average performance. Each cell shows the relevant average, recorded in calendar days. Data from our previous league table is included in brackets for comparison.